Thought leadership: Establishing your brand as an expert
First off, you’re probably thinking “What on earth is a thought leader?” And you’d be forgiven for dismissing it as a bit of modern marketing lingo, along with a million other buzzwords we could probably do without.
Yet, hold on a minute. Thought leadership does exactly what it says on the box, and now it’s never been easier to better your brand and bring in business. It’s worth seeing how this can benefit you before dismissing it as just another marketing ploy.
What is a thought leader?
A thought leader is defined as ‘an individual or firm that is recognised as an authority in a specialised field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded.’
Forbes goes one better and says thought leaders: “tend to be the most successful individuals or firms in their respective fields.” It’s clear that to be described as a thought leader is a high achievement.
Success, being recognised and sought out and even rewarded - who wouldn’t want that for their business? Read on for our guide on how to become the expert authority and benefit your business.
Have you got what it takes?
Becoming a thought leader isn’t as clear as announcing yourself as one and expecting everyone to see you as an expert authority. If that were the case, we would all do it!
The first thing you need to do is work out exactly what you want to be seen as an expert for. This can prove a lot tricker in B2C markets, as trying to prove you’re an authority with a commercial product can make it harder to gain interest from journalists, media and customers.
Once you have your niche, you need to look into what makes you different from others in that niche. Start small and see how you can differentiate yourself from your competitors in your sector.
If you’re a technology company, look at those making the same software or hardware as you and see what you can do differently. However, remember to stay small to begin with. Much as you might like to be seen as a better authority than Apple or Microsoft, it’s an impossible task to beat them from the offset. Remember the old adage and don’t run before you can walk!
What should you do next?
So now you know what your expertise and niche angle is, how do you go about making yourself a thought leader? Follow these three key steps:
- Speak out
Getting your voice out there is key, so show off your expertise and knowledge with a blog post on your company website, a LinkedIn post encouraging debate amongst your network or even share your views on social media.
- Build relationships
Take note of the journalists and media who cover news and features to do with your sector or industry and reach out to them.
Explain politely who you are and how you can work with them and supply comment or insight for their next feature.
Remember, you’re building your network rather than selling so be careful in your approach as trying to push your product or brand in a sales pitch can be an instant turn-off for many media outlets. For more tips on how to speak to the press, read our guide here.
- Stay on trend
Nobody wants to be seen as outdated or left behind, so make sure you’re staying up to date with the latest news in your industry.
Speaking out and ‘newsjacking’ is a great way to get your business seen as part of the emerging trends or changes.
Thought leadership in the long run
Becoming a thought leader is not a one-off trick that you can then tick off your list of marketing deliverables. It requires regular effort and maintenance to ensure your position as an expert doesn’t diminish and you continue to be seen as the ‘go to’ brand or person.
Continuing to stay current and on top of the latest trends in your sector is key to being seen and ensuring you’re recognised as knowledgeable in your industry. If a current event such as a potential law change could affect your sector, then make sure you’re speaking out about it - and not just to voice opinion.
Consider offering advice for how to act and incorporate the change in a positive way for businesses. This will show how proactive you and your business are, as well as showing others that you’re already thinking of ways to utilise it in the best possible way.
Enjoy being an expert
Being recognised as an expert will benefit your business significantly - it will earn you great PR and column inches and see you grow your network and your customer base too.
So what are you waiting for? Get your voice heard and your brand seen today as the thought leader that you are.
Get yourself heard in the news
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